Perception and Its Development: A Tribute to Eleanor J. Gibson

Perception and Its Development: A Tribute to Eleanor J. Gibson

Perception and Its Development: A Tribute to Eleanor J. Gibson

Perception and Its Development: A Tribute to Eleanor J. Gibson

Excerpt

Anne D. Pick University of Minnesota

We have acquired important new knowledge about the nature and development of perception in recent years, and the insights of Eleanor Jack Gibson have had a prominent role in guiding the search for that knowledge. The purpose of this volume is to honor her continuing contribution to our understanding of perception. The book is organized around five topics, each of which reflects the influence of her own thinking. Part I covers learning and generalization, which was the subject of her own doctoral dissertation at Yale University. Contributors to that topic in this volume are Donald A. Riley and Marvin R. Lamb, and Louise and Thomas Tighe. In both chapters there is emphasis on the need to analyze the relevant aspects of the stimulus and the task from the perspective of the subject. The stimulus as conceptualized by the experimenter is not necessarily the functional stimulus, and this theme is elaborated in other chapters in the volume as well. Two other themes occur first in these chapters, at least implicitly, and are elaborated in later chapters. The first is that pattern and structure are concepts important for our understanding of the basis for complex perception, and the second is that the relevant information for perception is given over time as well as space.

The topic of Part II is the development of spatial perception, and the contributors are Richard Walk, who collaborated with Eleanor Gibson in the original studies with the "visual cliff," and Albert Yonas. Both writers emphasize the importance of using natural, nonarbitrary behaviors to index perceptual functioning, and the need to consider the setting in which the relevant behavior occurs. A consideration of the adaptive significance of various aspects of perception is useful for understanding its phylogeny, ontogeny, and variability.

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